A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby TheVat on March 27th, 2017, 3:21 pm 

"It's very close, but it's not a perfect loch-ness!"

:-(
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on March 27th, 2017, 9:37 pm 

Never mind him, Ken. Brains in vats don't exist either.

Hilary Putnam pro... pro... prrrrr... um, made a strong case for it. (pardon the pun *cough*)

Can't bring myself to use the P-word. Oh, and we're friends too.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on March 27th, 2017, 11:19 pm 

Braininvat » March 27th, 2017, 10:52 pm wrote:There's an old Jewish saying about that: "Keep your mind open, but not so open that your brain falls out on the floor."

Regarding my Galileo example and evidence for things that later prove illusory....I guess one could say that his, and later Newton's, evidence for a gravitational force remains valid if we recognize that gravity is what physicists call a pseudoforce. It's still useful to treat it as a force, even if we recognize at the same time that this is an illusion created by the curvature of space and objects taking a trajectory that follows that curvature. So, again, something can prove illusory but we still make use of the illusion when we are making calculations, designing a rocket for structural integrity, etc. And I think many things in hard science are like that - the old evidence was not a figment of the imagination, and it did provide a legitimate window onto some regular pattern in the world. (unless the evidence was simply bad data from a researcher who was a bit delusional, like the fellow who saw "canals" on the surface of Mars and concluded it harbored civilizations)



This seems the appropriate time to once again flaunt my highly erudite philosophical analysis of evidence... available at an airport bookshop near you....


It seems our esteemed members are forever at each other's throats over what constitutes "evidence". The religious poster may claim the evidence for God is all around; the UFO fan will adduce abundant eye-witness testimony as evidence for extraterrestrial visitation; meanwhile the science fan is liable to dismiss both -- and none too graciously either -- while trumpeting the superior virtues of "scientific evidence".

You're not likely to hear him or her explain precisely what that means though.

Well, why all this discord, chaps? Could it be that there's more than one concept of evidence in play? Could it be that this is the case even within the domain of science, which is primarily our concern here? After all, scientists themselves are by no means univocal regarding precisely what counts as evidence. Consider, for example, those entities such as the luminiferous ether, endorsed by the entire scientific community throughout the 19th century, and even hailed by J. C. Maxwell as "the most highly confirmed entity in all science", much as we're often told today of the "overwhelming evidence" for evolutionary theory.

(Although once again, how the rest of us are to know what constitutes "overwhelming evidence" is left unexplained. )

If the ether turns out to be illusory, as is now apparently the case, what are we to say of all that overwhelming evidence? Did these sombre, costive, bearded Victorians have evidence or not? Should we say:-

a). There is good evidence that the ether exists
b). Between 1800 and 1900 (to simplify) there was good evidence that the ether exists. After 1900 there was not.
c). There never was good evidence that the ether exists

Philosopher of science, Peter Achinstein, endeavors to add some clarity to the evidentiary imbroglio. In his highly recommended, if rather dry , "The Book of Evidence", Achinstein reviews and rejects as inadequate previous philosophical explications of evidence (raven paradox ) and identifies the following four concepts of evidence, all of which, he claims, are used by scientists, and more than one of which may be applicable simultaneously.


1. Subjective evidence - If e is believed to constitute evidence for hypothesis h, then it does.

On this construal of evidence, neither h nor even e need be true. All that matters is that e is BELIEVED by some individual or group to be evidence for h. If you think it's evidence, dahlin', then it is. Insofar as scientists believed there was evidence supporting the existence of the ether, between the years 1800 and 1900 there was.

And if e is YOUR evidence, then you believe e constitutes veridical evidence (see below)


2. ES evidence - Given all that is known in a particular context or "epistemic situation", e provides ample justification for a belief in h. Such an interpretation of evidence is objective in the sense that it represents a relationship between evidence and hypothesis based on a given epistemic context, irrespective of whether anyone actually believes e, h, or that e constitutes evidence for h.

Thus, relativized to certain epistemic situations such as that which may have obtained in the 19th century, there is good evidence that the ether exists.


3. Veridical evidence - The real McCoy.

Veridical evidence provides, in Achinstein's terms, "a good reason to believe", to be contrasted with a good justification for belief in the case of ES evidence. Even though both are objective and neither depends on what anyone actually believes, veridical evidence differs importantly from ES evidence in that while 19th century scientists may have been perfectly justified in believing in the ether given all that was known at the time, their ES evidence nonetheless does NOT in fact constitute a good reason to believe. There can be no veridical evidence for the ether hypothesis inasmuch as h is false.

Veridical evidence is analogous to the signs or symptoms of a disease. The presence of a particular rash may provide good reason to believe that the patient has a certain disease, regardless of what anyone knows or doesn't know about such things. Veridical evidence need not be conclusive though. To use Achenstein's own example, evidence that Jones bought 999 tickets in a 1000-ticket (fair) lottery provides a very good, although not conclusive, reason to believe the hypothesis that Jones was the winner. If Jones was not the winner, though, there was no veridical evidence to be had; veridical evidence requires that h be true. Which brings us to...


4. Potential evidence

More modest than veridical evidence. All veridical evidence is potential evidence, but the reverse does not necessarily hold. Like veridical evidence, potential evidence requires that e be true, but unlike veridical evidence, it does not presuppose the truth of h. That rash can constitute potential evidence for the patient having that particular disease, even if it turns out that the patient does not, in fact, have the disease.

While veridical evidence demands that e be the kind of thing that IS a good reason to believe h, potential evidence demands only the e be the kind of thing that CAN BE a good reason to believe h. (If I'm understanding Achinstein correctly)



Hope that's clear. If not, buy the book, dammit, and support Prof Achinstein's upcoming weekend break in Asbury Park, a rare splurge thanks to double-figured book sales.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 28th, 2017, 12:41 pm 

NoShips » March 27th, 2017, 10:19 pm wrote:Hope that's clear. If not, buy the book, dammit, and support Prof Achinstein's upcoming weekend break in Asbury Park, a rare splurge thanks to double-figured book sales.


What is abundantly clear to me is that these distinctions are nothing but rhetoric and hot air -- an excuse for you to arbitrarily puff up your own reasons for belief while dissing the reasons other people have for belief. All of it comes under the category of subjective evidence in the only distinction which I make.

Objective evidence: This is the evidence of science based written procedures which anyone can perform to verify for themselves that the claims are in fact the case. This is a reasonable basis for expecting other people to agree with your claim.

Subjective evidence: This is anything which does not meet the above criterion. It includes personal experiences like high tech aliens coming to visit you personally without leaving you one shred of evidence to show anyone else. It may be sufficient reason for your own belief but it provides you no reasonable basis for expecting other people to agree with your claims. And no amount of rhetoric and hot air can change this one little bit.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Forest_Dump on March 28th, 2017, 2:05 pm 

mitchellmckain wrote:Objective evidence: This is the evidence of science based written procedures which anyone can perform to verify for themselves that the claims are in fact the case. This is a reasonable basis for expecting other people to agree with your claim.

Subjective evidence: This is anything which does not meet the above criterion. It includes personal experiences like high tech aliens coming to visit you personally without leaving you one shred of evidence to show anyone else. It may be sufficient reason for your own belief but it provides you no reasonable basis for expecting other people to agree with your claims. And no amount of rhetoric and hot air can change this one little bit.


Sadly, while I wish this were true, in practical reality, it rarely is and things just aren't that simple. For example, I have a bit more education than many and one area where I have a bit more education and direct experience is in the science, etc., of getting radiometric dates from old organic materials. Even though I understand a lot of the physics, etc., of doing this myself, sadly there is no practical means of me being able to build my own equipment to do my own AMS dates and confirm this for myself. Similarly I can't build my own scanning electron microscope. I don't even have the expertise to build my own computers let alone manufacture computer chips. Lets not get into nuclear physics. modern medicne or space travel and these barriers exist on many practical levels ranging from cost, including time to access to materials and laws.

There is not much I find useful or helpful in NoShips contrarianism but I also don't think it is helpful to throw out counter arguments that may be as bad. Those definitions of objective vs. subjective are pretty out of date and even irrelevant.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Athena on March 28th, 2017, 2:26 pm 

There does not appear to be unquestioned proof of what gravity is.
http://www.space.com/32147-why-is-gravity-so-hard-to-understand.html
There are clever ideas out there, like loop quantum gravity ("What if space-time is pixelated … wouldn't that be awesome?") and string theory ("What if we radically alter our concepts of particles … wouldn't that be awesome?"), but neither of these has made much theoretical headway in the past few decades, and both suffer from a severe lack of testable predictions. There simply isn't much evidence to guide our models; our particle accelerators lack the punch needed to probe physics at these scales.

That's why places like black holes and the early universe are so compelling to theorists: They're places where gravity is both small and strong, and by studying those scenarios, hopefully we can get a glimpse of how to correctly treat gravity. In the meantime, though, we can only shrug.

You may have heard of the graviton, the "particle" that carries gravity. But that concept comes from trying to paint gravity with quantum mechanical colors. And we know that simply doesn't work — at least not yet. Until further notice, there simply isn't a real thing you can point to and say, "That's a graviton."

What is the ultimate resolution? We know we live in a quantum world, but we can't figure out a way to describe gravity without swearing. And that is infinitely annoying.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on March 28th, 2017, 6:29 pm 

@ Mitchell and Forest (hiya),

Just supposing (and I don't) that your criterion for evidence is correct, what you've offered up is simply a necessary condition; it does nothing whatsoever to clarify e (the evidence) is evidence for what.

Feel free to drop by and view my sock drawer. Now we have objective evidence on Mitchell's account. But evidence for what? The Big Bang theory?

By the way, my own research into the Big Band theory suggests Glenn Miller created the universe?

P.S. Forest, the point of all this is to avoid committing oneself to rubbish. We wouldn't want that now, would we?

Gimme a poke when you have your criteria for evidence in good shape.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on March 28th, 2017, 6:34 pm 

@ Athena

The word "proof", in my opinion, belongs properly to the realm of logic and mathematics; it is misapplied to empirical science. I do get a little weary of high profile scientists like Dawkins, deGrasse Tyson, and Krauss advancing claims that are manifestly and outrageously false. Sigh!

Who mentioned "hot air" again? :-)
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on March 28th, 2017, 6:47 pm 

But Forest, whatever you think of me (lol), I do admire your objectivity. You're one of the least biased members out there; eager to defend your beliefs, but not to the extent that the truth gets convoluted.

Bravo, sir!

As for myself, well, someone has to play the skeptical misanthrope, eh? Lest we all end up believing in Beegee abductions. The Chinese say "better to believe than not". I'd agree too, but then we'd both be wrong.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Forest_Dump on March 28th, 2017, 7:42 pm 

NoShips wrote:The word "proof", in my opinion, belongs properly to the realm of logic and mathematics; it is misapplied to empirical science.


Technically (admittedly more like "from what I recall") only math and law have rigid definitions of proof and, in the latter, even with a solid definition of "proof" that must hold before someone is conicted, we still ind up finding that many people who are "proven" to be guilty, aren't. Science has no agreed upon definition of "proof" that I have ever heard of.

Just to give one example, many people accept as scientifically proven that smoking causes cancer. More accurately, until very recently, there were only a lot of studies arguing for a strong correlation between smoking and cancer and a lot of studies trying to find out what in smoking actually causes cancer. In other words, what we had was over 70 years of correlations but no causal connection really spelled out, let alone verified in any way by independent lines of enquiry. Out of curiosity, do you then think this science of linking smoking to cancer is bogus? Anyway, one bottom line here is that there are always tons of possible ways to find evience that is spurious even when there appear to be strong correlations. But the key to me is linking evidence to conclusions by way of strong arguments in logic, not necessarily with math, and then finding independent ways to test the logic and links. More recently, for example, (according to Bio about 10 years ago) the precise cause of cancer from smoking was identified. This means that other independent means can now be studied to look at exactly what happens, step by step, when a specific chemical in smoke encounters tissue. and we don't have to keep funding scientists addicted to Cancer Society funing for endless studies of rats in smoke-filled rooms.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on March 28th, 2017, 8:10 pm 

That's a good point, Forest. I stand corrected.

Um, not to be a killjoy, but it was kinda common knowledge that smoking kinda makes one sick even circa 1700. Did we really need scientific proof?
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Forest_Dump on March 28th, 2017, 8:41 pm 

NoShips wrote:Um, not to be a killjoy, but it was kinda common knowledge that smoking kinda makes one sick even circa 1700. Did we really need scientific proof?


On the other hand, many extoll the virtues of tobacco smoke. In the movie "The King's Speech", physicians were suggesting the King should smoke to improve his voise. Even in one episode of "House", Dr. House prescribed smoking for Chrone's disease (I think it was). What kind of common knowledge do you mean? Kind of like the common knowledge that the earth is flat or that races exist? Interestingly, much closer to my own life, smoking tobacco smoke is tied to and part of religious ceremonies. In these contexts, tobacco (and other kinds of smoke such as sage, cedar and sweet grass) are even allowed to be used in hospitals. Of course, personally I don't see any chemical difference between profane and sacred smoking but of course in medical anthropology they try to teach you the differences between the Cartesian perspectives and the phenomenological.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 28th, 2017, 11:43 pm 

Forest_Dump » March 28th, 2017, 1:05 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain wrote:Objective evidence: This is the evidence of science based written procedures which anyone can perform to verify for themselves that the claims are in fact the case. This is a reasonable basis for expecting other people to agree with your claim.

Subjective evidence: This is anything which does not meet the above criterion. It includes personal experiences like high tech aliens coming to visit you personally without leaving you one shred of evidence to show anyone else. It may be sufficient reason for your own belief but it provides you no reasonable basis for expecting other people to agree with your claims. And no amount of rhetoric and hot air can change this one little bit.


Sadly, while I wish this were true, in practical reality, it rarely is and things just aren't that simple. For example, I have a bit more education than many and one area where I have a bit more education and direct experience is in the science, etc., of getting radiometric dates from old organic materials. Even though I understand a lot of the physics, etc., of doing this myself, sadly there is no practical means of me being able to build my own equipment to do my own AMS dates and confirm this for myself. Similarly I can't build my own scanning electron microscope. I don't even have the expertise to build my own computers let alone manufacture computer chips. Lets not get into nuclear physics. modern medicne or space travel and these barriers exist on many practical levels ranging from cost, including time to access to materials and laws.

I beg to differ. I didn't say that anyone can verify these things without work, training, and the help of others. With enough help you CAN verify these things yourself. The lack of motivation to put in time, effort and money to do so has no bearing on this whatsoever. The essential point is that your personal belief has no impact on the result of these experiments. It is the written procedure that produces the result and not the beliefs and feelings of the people follow the procedure. That is what makes them objective. I think your objections amount to nothing more than irrelevant quibling and not a flaw of any substance in this distinction I made.

Forest_Dump » March 28th, 2017, 1:05 pm wrote:Those definitions of objective vs. subjective are pretty out of date and even irrelevant.

It most certainly is NOT irrelevant. It is a highly relevant issue even in a court of law. If the defense cannot hire their own experts to verify the results claimed by a forensic team, they have a valid objection to whether those results should actually be accepted as true. Repeat-ability is the heart and soul of science and is the very essence of all its claims to objectivity. Whether it is out of favor among a bunch of self-important philosophical rhetoriticians is what is really irrelevant, for that will never change the facts of how science is actually conducted.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 28th, 2017, 11:48 pm 

NoShips » March 28th, 2017, 7:10 pm wrote:That's a good point, Forest. I stand corrected.

Um, not to be a killjoy, but it was kinda common knowledge that smoking kinda makes one sick even circa 1700. Did we really need scientific proof?


We needed the proof in order to force this "common knowledge" on other people with the legal measures which were taken. That is how things are done in a free society. Otherwise the "common knowledge" that God exists and gives certain "commandments" would be taken as sufficient reason to force such things on other people as well.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on March 28th, 2017, 11:53 pm 

"Proof" my ass. Mitchell, not to be rude, but will you puh-LEASE demonstrate how scientific theories are "proven"?

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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 29th, 2017, 1:25 pm 

NoShips » March 28th, 2017, 10:53 pm wrote:"Proof" my ass. Mitchell, not to be rude, but will you puh-LEASE demonstrate how scientific theories are "proven"?

"Proof" was YOUR word not mine. One must question why you use a word when you have such doubt and confusion about its meaning. The obvious conclusion is that using this word yourself and then raising such a stink shows a propensity for dishonest rhetoric in the extreme.

NoShips » March 28th, 2017, 10:56 pm wrote:I suspect even Forest will back me up here. Terribly sorry, Mitchell, but you strike me as an incorrigible imbecile. Bring back Mormon missionaries; all is forgiven.


Even more obviously dishonest rhetoric with ad-hominem remarks fired off like shots in the dark.

Everyone, is this guy fooling anyone but himself?


Back to the topic: Should we believe scientists?

Answer: We should believe scientists more than politicians, used car salesmen, lawyers, religion mongers and everyone else using the methodology of rhetoric rather than the methods of science. This does not mean that rhetoric has no value. On the contrary, it is how the majority of human civilization operates. But the fact remains that it does not arrive at the truth as reliably as does the methods of science. This is the only reasonable conclusion that an intelligent man of the modern era can arrive at.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 29th, 2017, 3:58 pm 

Notice that I am not making an argument like... science is the arbiter of all truth on all things for all people -- not hardly. I will not for example support anything like Sagan's argument that the methods of science define what has any veridical worth. But I will draw my lines on issues like this where I think they are in fact reasonably defensible.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby TheVat on March 29th, 2017, 6:34 pm 

Image

Science tends to be reductive. So I don't give it full scope to shine a light on all possible knowledge. There doesn't seem to be a robust scientific method for studying holistic phenomena, for example. Downward causation, the bugaboo of consciousness studies, is not going to be tackled through traditional reductionist approaches. Reduction gives you components that only causally interact with components next door. In most fields, anything nonlocal sounds like magic. Can consciousness have causal agency? Is there a "mind field"? Seems to be a metaphysical minefield. But, in the reductive approach that is the strength of science, it seems that evidence can be credible and, as MM suggests, is more credible than the rhetoric that flows from other disciplines. To the extent that nature can be viewed as machinery, the machine-oriented approach of reductive science can be credited.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby RoccoR on March 29th, 2017, 8:17 pm 

Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?
mitchellmckain,,et al,

I apologize for my tardiness in this response.

I'm not really sure what level we are speaking on. But there are a number of arguable issues here.

mitchellmckain » March 25th, 2017, 1:25 pm wrote:The photon has no charge or mass so by this reasoning "how can that be called a particle and how could that effect anything" Yet the fact remains that photons are the force particle (messenger carrier) for the electromagnetic force.

(COMMENT)

A photon, like all anomolies that appear to have more than one set of characteristics (ie Particle-Waves) is peculiar.

    Multiple Sources to Contest: Encyclopedia of Science and Scientific Review of Photon & Light:

    •∆• A photon is a particle of light or, more precisely, a quantum of the electromagnetic field. It has zero rest mass and a spin of 1. Apart from its obvious role as the carrier of virtually all the information that we have so far been able to ascertain about phenomena beyond the solar system (with the exception of cosmic dust, cosmic rays, neutrinos, and, possibly, gravitational waves), the photon is also the gauge boson that mediates the force of electromagnetic force acting between any two charged particles. In their role as force-carriers, photons, known as virtual photons, can adopt an effective mass for a short period in accordance with Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

    •∆• A photon is a quantum of light, or the smallest possible packet of light at a given wavelength. It is emitted by an atom during a transition from one energy state to another.

    As FUNDAMENTAL PARTICLES, photons travel at the speed of light and have mass and momentum dependent on their frequencies. By classical reasoning a photon would have the apparent dualistic property of being either a particle or a wave disturbance. That is, such phenomena as INTERFERENCE and diffraction require an interpretation in terms of the wave characteristics of photons, but such phenomena as the PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT require an interpretation in terms of the particle nature of the photon. Quantum mechanics is able to resolve this dilemma by assigning probabilistic characteristics to the motions of atoms and photons.

But if you are convinced your position is clear and accurate, then I'll defer to your better judgement.

mitchellmckain » March 25th, 2017, 1:25 pm wrote:Scientists have been poking and testing the Standard Model (that is the name of the theory with quarks in it, by the way) hunting desperately for any flaw as a clue for new physics and none has been found. Because of this the evidence has accumulated to a very high degree. But have quarks been detected in particle accelerators? Yes. The last was the top quark, heaviest of the bunch, reported in 1995. It was after this they moved on to a bigger challenge of discovering the Higgs boson, which was confirmed in 2012.

(COMMENT)

Yes, I agree, that quarks seemed to have been discovered that first the model of one-third and two-third charge model. But no one has been able to recombine the fractured or chipped particles into its principle form of a Neutron or Proton. Nor has anyone conducted an experiment that has actually seen the the transfer of energy or the alteration of a basic force. However, the LHC is digging deeper; with the discovery of what may be pentaquarks (Xib'- and Xib*). It appears that the more energy the test put into a collision, the smaller and smaller fractured subatomic chips at the quantum level are found. I don't think we know what this means, but --- resisting the urge to abandon the current model, we just keep adding to the model.

    QUOTE -- Subatomic Particles UXL Encyclopedia of Science COPYRIGHT 2002 The Gale Group, Inc.

    In 1964, American physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929– ) and Swiss physicist George Zweig (1937– ) independently suggested a way out of the particle zoo. They suggested that the nearly 100 subatomic particles that had been discovered so far were not really elementary (fundamental) particles. Instead, they suggested that only a relatively few elementary particles existed, and the other subatomic particles that had been discovered were composed of various combinations of these truly elementary particles.

mitchellmckain » March 25th, 2017, 1:25 pm wrote: --- Therefore, if ANYONE should be believed it is the scientific community. I rest my case.

(COMMENT)

Throughout history, science has advanced and evolved in many different ways on many different subjects. One of the reasons why we study ancient alchemist, astrologers, mystics, scientists, and philosophers, is so we know that in most cases, what we know today may very well change tomorrow. And what intuitively appears correct, is not always so.

But again, I'll defer to your better judgment. I would be even more impressed if you can tell me how a "messenger particle" transmits it's message (imparts it's force) and how the receptor know the difference between the "various messengers." This is really a neat trick since we do not know what a line of force is made of in any respect.

Most Respectfully,
R
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Lomax on March 29th, 2017, 8:18 pm 

The question asked by the OP is not really "should we believe scientists?" but "when should we believe scientists?". "Should" is of course being used in the pragmatic rather than the moral sense. So I have a proposal: When we need to make a decision on which the body of scientific knowledge (or apparent knowledge) can be brought to bear, and when our own knowledge does not seem to us superior.

For example: if I have tonsillitis, I don't tell my doctor which type of antibiotics I need. I tell him my symptoms, and he chooses. Generally speaking the doctor seems to make more effective choices than I myself would have - my medicinal knowledge being meager, and little better than blind chance.

Hopefully this appeal to Bayesian probability won't seem too circular. After all, while you've all been arguing about what sort of evidence science requires, NoShips has really asked what sort of evidence we require. Of course we need to take a certain amount on trust from specialists and experts, and judge them by their results more than by their methods.

P.S. having read the exchanges between Chomsky and Quine, I can affirm the latter's impression of the former.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 30th, 2017, 2:14 am 

Lomax » March 29th, 2017, 7:18 pm wrote:The question asked by the OP is not really "should we believe scientists?" but "when should we believe scientists?".

That is a different question and it is a very good question for scientists indulge in other activities than science and use rhetoric just as much as anyone else, and when they do, they fall in the same category as politicians, used car salesmen and religion mongers. Scientists should be believed more than these other fellows ONLY when they are following the methods of science and that includes approval by the rest of the scientific community, who check that their claims are based on repeatable tests.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 30th, 2017, 2:35 am 

RoccoR » March 29th, 2017, 7:17 pm wrote:Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?
mitchellmckain,,et al,

I apologize for my tardiness in this response.

I'm not really sure what level we are speaking on. But there are a number of arguable issues here.

mitchellmckain » March 25th, 2017, 1:25 pm wrote:The photon has no charge or mass so by this reasoning "how can that be called a particle and how could that effect anything" Yet the fact remains that photons are the force particle (messenger carrier) for the electromagnetic force.

(COMMENT)

A photon, like all anomolies that appear to have more than one set of characteristics (ie Particle-Waves) is peculiar.

Not really. You are confusing the imagery we use to grapple with these things and their actual mathematical function in the predictive equations of physics.

As I have before in another thread, I can give you a better imagery which is a little closer to how theoretical physicists actually think of these things these days. The universe is composed of these things called fields which although they spread out over space nevertheless have a somewhat unitary or indivisible nature. I gave this picture in another thread talking about matter where I explained that these fields come in two types, the space occupying matter fields called fermions (electrons, quarks, protons, neutrons, etc...) and the energy fields called bosons (photons, gluons, gravitons, etc...).

But these pictures or visualizations are just our minds grappling with the mathematics. The mathematics is precise and it is only the various pictures and visualizations which are vague and contradictory.

RoccoR » March 29th, 2017, 7:17 pm wrote:I would be even more impressed if you can tell me how a "messenger particle" transmits it's message (imparts it's force) and how the receptor know the difference between the "various messengers." This is really a neat trick since we do not know what a line of force is made of in any respect.

Most Respectfully,

The so called "lines of force" are an outdated visualization. What we have in Quantum Field theory is a set of interactions between different fields along with a probability which can be calculated, referred to as a scattering amplitude. It is by summing up these various possibilities with their corresponding probabilities that things (like forces) are calculated in quantum field theory. Thus it is by their role in such calculations that the bosonic fields like photons transmit the various so called forces. (And yes, the implication is that everything which CAN happen is a component in the quantity of force which QFT calculates)

This is at least a picture/visualization which is closer to the calculations in quantum field theory.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on March 30th, 2017, 5:33 am 

mitchellmckain » March 30th, 2017, 3:35 pm wrote:
As I have before in another thread, I can give you a better imagery which is a little closer to how theoretical physicists actually think of these things these days. The universe is composed of these things called fields which although they spread out over space nevertheless have a somewhat unitary or indivisible nature. I gave this picture in another thread talking about matter where I explained that these fields come in two types, the space occupying matter fields called fermions (electrons, quarks, protons, neutrons, etc...) and the energy fields called bosons (photons, gluons, gravitons, etc...).




I see. And what about Santa Claus?

(Wow! You actually believe all this shite, dude. A telescammer's dream come true)
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby NoShips on March 30th, 2017, 5:35 am 

Lomax » March 30th, 2017, 9:18 am wrote:The question asked by the OP is not really "should we believe scientists?" but "when should we believe scientists?". "Should" is of course being used in the pragmatic rather than the moral sense. So I have a proposal: When we need to make a decision on which the body of scientific knowledge (or apparent knowledge) can be brought to bear, and when our own knowledge does not seem to us superior.

For example: if I have tonsillitis, I don't tell my doctor which type of antibiotics I need. I tell him my symptoms, and he chooses. Generally speaking the doctor seems to make more effective choices than I myself would have - my medicinal knowledge being meager, and little better than blind chance.

Hopefully this appeal to Bayesian probability won't seem too circular. After all, while you've all been arguing about what sort of evidence science requires, NoShips has really asked what sort of evidence we require. Of course we need to take a certain amount on trust from specialists and experts, and judge them by their results more than by their methods.

P.S. having read the exchanges between Chomsky and Quine, I can affirm the latter's impression of the former.



Erudite and a toothbrush as always, my clever friend. Nice to know someone is listening.

I wonder what the physicists think themselves. Do you believe in quarks?
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Forest_Dump on March 30th, 2017, 9:44 am 

This is one of those areas where I adopt more of a middle ground. I certainly don't think science has any kind of monopoly on anything we might call "absolute truth" and in fact I agree with the position that science is a methodology that only concerns itself with certain specific kinds of knowledge and that there can be kinds of knowledge that lie outside what science can investigate. I know there are many who believe that anything that might exist outside what science can investigate should be dismissed but I find that to be too shallow a perspective.

As far as I can see, science is most active in areas where there are still new things to learn. Given that, it seems completely unreasonable to expect that even in the best scenarios, there won't be mistakes made and other kinds of setbacks as we learn new things. However, setbacks and mistakes can and will also happen when there are particular biases in play. These biases can come from both obvious (?) sources, such as individuals (or collectives) representing specific financial (e.g., big pharma, tobacco, oil industry, commercial goods production, etc.) or broader ideological systems. Tough to say that the educational system needed to properly train would-be scientists doesn't also serve to indoctrinate or propagandize in favour of the socioeconomic, political, etc., system that bred and supports to varying degrees, the very ideology of science.

Nonetheless, while there are certainly many, many problems with "science", how scientists are trained and selected, etc., leading us to the position that science more often than not can only provide us with opinions, this does not mean that all opinions are equal and that non-scientists are capable of providing opinions of equal weight. Quite simply, good scientists (leaving open the metric for deciding "good") usually provide much more well informed opinions than non-scientists if for no other reason that the circumstances of their career (i.e., time and resources) plus training allow them to be much more well-informed than even the best dilletante. Thats how they got the job most of the time - through some kind of systematic selection and winnowing process (although of course other political and extraneous factors sometimes play a role - sorry but not everybody will be competing on a level playing field for positions with more prestigious titles such as faculty positions at Ivy League universities).

I actually believe that the very nature of science demands that, in fact, we "trust" scientists least of all because the very nature of science demands that before any claim should be accepted, we subject it to increasingly intense scrutiny in attempts to falsify it or find a better alternative. So, the more broadly accepted an idea before us, the more intensely we should be attacking it (i.e., the least we should "trust" it). So, ultimately, in some ways I tend to look at a theory like the one that explains evolutionary change as a theory I trust least because, among other things, I would dearly like to find some way of toppling it and replacing it with something better. And so I do also read the attacks and critiques made from other sources which range from the particular (e.g., natural selection may be tautological) to broadly metaphysical (e.g., creationistas, etc.). However, perhaps while I do think there shoud be some tweaks in the way evolutionary theory is presented (i.e., when it comes to primate evolution I think forces like drift and gene flow were more active than nat selection per sey), to be intellectually honest, as much as I would love to topple evolutionary theory in favour of something of my own creation, it si impossible not to admit, however reluctantly, that evolutionary theory has survived the most intense attacks ever launched on a "science" and is the most powerful idea for both explaining the past and driecting huge numbers of research directions into the foreseeable future.

One philosopher of science I have read (James Bell) notes that although we should not usually accept "appeals to authority", in reality in virtually any field of enquiry there are huge numbers of knowledge claims being made and nobody can hope to pursue them all particularly if they want to generater knowledge claims of their onw. So, ultimately you do need to select who and what you want to examine critically. Someone with a track record of having been fully and appropriately trained and having knowledge claims survive challenges simply makes a better target for further scrutiny. However, once you have used this kind of "appeal to authority" to focus scrutiny on that individual and ther specific caims, then all bets are off and their claims should be challenged as thoroughly as we would hope to see in a political election. Only then, should it survive, should we grudgingly acknowledge, through reluctant scholarly integrity, that that claim survived attempts to discredit it (at least for now) and might even be a scaffold upon further research can be constructed. I would definitely agree that sometimes science goes easy on cronies, funders, and other political attachments (people are, after all, only people) but in the end that only hurts us all.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby RoccoR on March 30th, 2017, 10:03 am 

Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?
mitchellmckain,,et al,

Not to be argumentative --- but advanced science and mathematics are extremely useful; but not truth in themselves. They are theories we use to express reality in a universal language in a single form. As Brian Green say, the physics says time can run in either direction. Well I choose to think, that our mental faculties know that time runs in only one direction; no matter what the math says.

One and One is Two = 1 + 1 = 2 = -|- + -|- = -||- are variations on a theme. It can describe or model a truth or reality, but it is not a truth or reality in itself.

mitchellmckain » March 30th, 2017, 2:35 am wrote:The so called "lines of force" are an outdated visualization.

(COMMENT)

You may be correct in that the scientific phrase "lines of force" may be inaccurate --- but we all remember the childhood experiment using a magnet, a jar of iron filings, and a piece of paper.

Magnet Field Trace.jpg


mitchellmckain » March 30th, 2017, 2:35 am wrote:What we have in Quantum Field theory is a set of interactions between different fields along with a probability which can be calculated, referred to as a scattering amplitude. It is by summing up these various possibilities with their corresponding probabilities that things (like forces) are calculated in quantum field theory.

(COMMENT)

This proves nothing, it says something (I don't know what) and it fails to answer the question. The Iron Filings are following a path of what? (Surface Currents!)

Ionizing radiation is deflected or screened away from Earth (largely) by the huge magnetic field. Some of this radiation is trapped in the "doughnut-like bands" (1958 Van Allen Belts).

mitchellmckain » March 30th, 2017, 2:35 am wrote:Thus it is by their role in such calculations that the bosonic fields like photons transmit the various so called forces. (And yes, the implication is that everything which CAN happen is a component in the quantity of force which QFT calculates)

(COMMENT)

That is (again) a theory devised to substantiate the model, but not explain the force --- how the force is picked-up, how the force is actually conveyed, and what the by-product is after the force is exhausted.

"Should We Believe Scientists" when they speak in such a language. When you attempt to pull two magnets apart, what is it that holds them together and that you struggle against? What is it that invisibly pulls them together? It certainly does not feel like a visualization; or align/deflect things like a visualization. We can detect these forces relatively easy, but they are invisible.

We should be skeptical of Scientist when they make claims without tangible evidence. "Bosonic fields" and the "fabric of space" are conjecture and theory. But it is very hard to explain how a theory of a "gravaton" (a quantum force carrier) and the theory of "mass" warping the "fabric of space" (space-time) fit together. (etc, etc, etc) While we have very accurate formulas for the calculation of gravitational effects, does the "gravaton" force carrier push bodies together or pull bodies apart? What is this quantum of gravity and how does it work? how does a "gravaton" effect a "proton?" How does a gravaton exchange a quantum packet of energy with photon to create the gravitational lensing effect?

(Should We Believe Scientists?)

The act of belief, in the absence of evidence that can not answer even the most basic questions about that evidence in a form that can be understood, is an act of faith. If I cannot understand the scientific evidence as explained, then it must be interpreted for me (tell me what you know, then tell me what you think). It is very similar to a foreign language interpreter. I must have trust and faith in the interpretation; even though I did not understand the first word. I watch lectures and talks by Brian Green, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Mariangela Lisanti, Leonard Susskind, Michio Kaku, Maria Zuber, and Lisa Randall --- they have all spoke for many theories and findings. To believe them, mental giants of our time, you must have faith in them.

Most Respectfully,
R
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 30th, 2017, 3:50 pm 

RoccoR » March 30th, 2017, 9:03 am wrote:
mitchellmckain » March 30th, 2017, 2:35 am wrote:The so called "lines of force" are an outdated visualization.

(COMMENT)

You may be correct in that the scientific phrase "lines of force" may be inaccurate --- but we all remember the childhood experiment using a magnet, a jar of iron filings, and a piece of paper.

I am correct but your summation of what I said is not. Visualizations putting the mathematics into pictures and words are not about accuracy. The accuracy is in the mathematics. The question is whether or not the pictures and words convey meaning to you, but since they don't have anything to do with the calculations then what could they possibly have to do with accuracy?

RoccoR » March 30th, 2017, 9:03 am wrote:
mitchellmckain » March 30th, 2017, 2:35 am wrote:What we have in Quantum Field theory is a set of interactions between different fields along with a probability which can be calculated, referred to as a scattering amplitude. It is by summing up these various possibilities with their corresponding probabilities that things (like forces) are calculated in quantum field theory.

(COMMENT)

This proves nothing, it says something (I don't know what) and it fails to answer the question. The Iron Filings are following a path of what? (Surface Currents!)

Ionizing radiation is deflected or screened away from Earth (largely) by the huge magnetic field. Some of this radiation is trapped in the "doughnut-like bands" (1958 Van Allen Belts).

mitchellmckain » March 30th, 2017, 2:35 am wrote:Thus it is by their role in such calculations that the bosonic fields like photons transmit the various so called forces. (And yes, the implication is that everything which CAN happen is a component in the quantity of force which QFT calculates)

(COMMENT)

That is (again) a theory devised to substantiate the model, but not explain the force --- how the force is picked-up, how the force is actually conveyed, and what the by-product is after the force is exhausted.

I wasn't aware that I was supposed to be proving anything -- I was just trying to help by providing a different imagery. And yes it does answer the question as far as the real physics is concerned. It is you who are substituting the pictures for reality and trying to make them fit together and thus coming up empty.

So what you should be doing is looking more closely at what I said and seeing what it means. Instead of magical forces acting at a distance, what we have is probable interactions. The so called forces are just an average effect of these interactions. Photons from the magnetic dipole interact with the electrons and protons in the iron according to ferromagnetic dipole of the atoms to transfer energy and momentum to these iron filings so they align with so called lines of force. Photons generated by the magnetic dipole of the earth interact with photons from the sun and deep space to impart energy and momentum deflecting their path. There is no "messages" or "force stuff" conveyed. What is conveyed by the photons is energy and momentum and it is the interaction rules that make things behave according to this imagery embodied by words like "lines of force."
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 30th, 2017, 4:03 pm 

Since some of these comments I am simply ignoring as completely meaningless, I thought I better respond to those which I have not commented on only because I quite agree with them. Though... there are other comments I do not respond to for the simple reason they do not interest me enough to think up a response.

Braininvat » March 29th, 2017, 5:34 pm wrote:Science tends to be reductive. So I don't give it full scope to shine a light on all possible knowledge. There doesn't seem to be a robust scientific method for studying holistic phenomena, for example. Downward causation, the bugaboo of consciousness studies, is not going to be tackled through traditional reductionist approaches. Reduction gives you components that only causally interact with components next door. In most fields, anything nonlocal sounds like magic. Can consciousness have causal agency? Is there a "mind field"? Seems to be a metaphysical minefield. But, in the reductive approach that is the strength of science, it seems that evidence can be credible and, as MM suggests, is more credible than the rhetoric that flows from other disciplines. To the extent that nature can be viewed as machinery, the machine-oriented approach of reductive science can be credited.

Absolutely!

Forest_Dump » March 30th, 2017, 8:44 am wrote:This is one of those areas where I adopt more of a middle ground. I certainly don't think science has any kind of monopoly on anything we might call "absolute truth" and in fact I agree with the position that science is a methodology that only concerns itself with certain specific kinds of knowledge and that there can be kinds of knowledge that lie outside what science can investigate. I know there are many who believe that anything that might exist outside what science can investigate should be dismissed but I find that to be too shallow a perspective.

Definitely!

Forest_Dump » March 30th, 2017, 8:44 am wrote:I actually believe that the very nature of science demands that, in fact, we "trust" scientists least of all because the very nature of science demands that before any claim should be accepted, we subject it to increasingly intense scrutiny in attempts to falsify it or find a better alternative. So, the more broadly accepted an idea before us, the more intensely we should be attacking it (i.e., the least we should "trust" it). So, ultimately, in some ways I tend to look at a theory like the one that explains evolutionary change as a theory I trust least because, among other things, I would dearly like to find some way of toppling it and replacing it with something better.

Exactly. Science is not asking us to trust what they say. It is in fact saying that we don't have to trust what they say because we can check it all out for ourselves if we want to.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 30th, 2017, 8:08 pm 

RoccoR » March 29th, 2017, 7:17 pm wrote:Yes, I agree, that quarks seemed to have been discovered that first the model of one-third and two-third charge model. But no one has been able to recombine the fractured or chipped particles into its principle form of a Neutron or Proton. Nor has anyone conducted an experiment that has actually seen the the transfer of energy or the alteration of a basic force. However, the LHC is digging deeper; with the discovery of what may be pentaquarks (Xib'- and Xib*). It appears that the more energy the test put into a collision, the smaller and smaller fractured subatomic chips at the quantum level are found. I don't think we know what this means, but --- resisting the urge to abandon the current model, we just keep adding to the model.

Incorrect and incorrect.

There is no problem recombining quarks. All you have to do is wait and they will do that all by themselves, creating more quarks and anti-quarks as needed from pure energy.

The more energy you put into a collision and the larger and more unstable particles you can create. It is a complete misunderstanding of particle accelerators if you think what they are doing is breaking things apart to find out what they are made of. On the contrary, what they are doing is cramming enough energy into a small space in order to create things like the ultra-heavy bosons like W, Z, and Higgs and ultra-heavy fermions like bottom and top quarks. From another perspective they are recreating the high energy environment early in the big bang in order to explore the symmetry-unbroken physics of that time, and thus when forces where united in a single field.

With the pentaquarks what we are seeing is that when you include unstable things, then you keep finding more combinations and resonances to add to the particle zoo we had before the Standard Model. It is not much different than finding another element to tag onto the end of the periodic table.

RoccoR » March 29th, 2017, 7:17 pm wrote:
    QUOTE -- Subatomic Particles UXL Encyclopedia of Science COPYRIGHT 2002 The Gale Group, Inc.
    In 1964, American physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929– ) and Swiss physicist George Zweig (1937– ) independently suggested a way out of the particle zoo. They suggested that the nearly 100 subatomic particles that had been discovered so far were not really elementary (fundamental) particles. Instead, they suggested that only a relatively few elementary particles existed, and the other subatomic particles that had been discovered were composed of various combinations of these truly elementary particles.

And thus a step was taken toward the Standard model.
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Re: A Simple Question: Should We Believe Scientists?

Postby Athena on April 3rd, 2017, 2:21 pm 

NoShips » March 28th, 2017, 9:53 pm wrote:"Proof" my ass. Mitchell, not to be rude, but will you puh-LEASE demonstrate how scientific theories are "proven"?

Thanks


I think Mitchellmckain made an excellent point about in a democracy there needs to be proof. However, that proof is not equal to a mathematical proof. Rather it is supposed to be a consensus on the best reasoning, and because new information can change that reasoning, democracy makes room of updating its laws and reasoning (supreme court) with the better reasoning.

Unfortunately, we do not have a strong democracy and have forgotten what consensus means and that it is very important to having a democracy. We have gotten into the power games that destroy civilizations. Trump is now eagerly destroying all the measures Obama put in place, as Reagan destroyed what President Carter put into action. Reagan lied to us about not needing to conserve oil, he slashed domestic budgets and poured money into military spending, as Trump is doing now, and the Germans did, but I don't want to get too far into politics. The question here is should we believe scientist, and the estimate of how many people will be without medical insurance if Obama care is killed, and many other decisions that should be based on facts and figures, not political party agenda. My political talk is to support what Mitchellmckain said about a democracy requiring proof. Science, facts, and figures are vital to good moral judgment. Unfortunately, the information we need today is not the bible and too many people do not know that. Too many people think our democracy comes out of the bible, instead of political, scientific, and philosophical thinking that has developed over the centuries.

This is not the proof of math, but it is the path to the best reasoning that is vital to good moral judgment, and it is changeable when there is new information making better reasoning possible.
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